COLUMBUS – Like a lot of people 50 and over, Urban Meyer struggled just a bit to read the story on the screen without glasses when a laptop computer was handed to him during his Tuesday press conference previewing next Monday’s national championship game.
But once he determined what the story said, he was happy. Very happy.
Meyer has been campaigning since around mid-season that someone — either the NCAA, the College Football Playoff committee or university athletic departments — should be allowed to pay for a significant portion of the travel expenses for parents to see their sons play for a national championship.
He had repeated that sentiment several times since then, including during his postgame press conference after OSU’s 42-35 win over Alabama in a College Football Playoff semifinal at the Sugar Bowl.
Moving with surprising speed, the NCAA announced on Tuesday that it would allow the College Football Playoff committee to give parents $1,250 each, for a total of $2,500 for travel expenses. This is in addition to $800 the competing schools, Ohio State and Oregon, already were allowed to give parents.
“That’s great. That’s great news. That’s outstanding news,” Meyer said.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said the plan started to come together Monday.
“Actually, it started yesterday morning with a call from the NCAA to me. So, again, I want to compliment Mark Emmert and Mark Lewis at the NCAA national office. They heard our plea through the media. They heard our plea and they found a way to allow the College Football Playoff to do what they did today. It’s less than 48 hours. It’s awesome,” Smith said.
“They (NCAA officials) get it and they were able to find a way. So I’m so thankful they heard us and found a way. They get it. It’s a good thing,” he said.
Smith said the NCAA views this as a “pilot program” and there will be a vote whether to incorporate it into the rule book probably later this year.
CARTWHEELS FOR CARDALE: If quarterback Cardale Jones is nervous about playing in the national championship game, it wasn’t evident Tuesday.
While Jones’ roommate Tyvis Powell was taping a television interview, Jones did several cartwheels behind him on the turf at OSU’s Woody Hayes Center indoor practice facility to try to distract Powell.
TWO PROBABLES: Tight end Jeff Heuerman, who was limited by an ankle injury in the Sugar Bowl, and H-back Dontre Wilson who has been out since early November with a broken foot, are both “probable” for the national championship game, Meyer said. Wilson suffered his injury in OSU’s 49-37 win over Michigan State on Nov. 8.
MEYER A MARIOTA FAN: Meyer says he has been impressed with Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota for a long time.
“He should have been Heisman Trophy winner. I’m glad he got it. For a lot of reasons, I’m glad he got it. I just love who he is,” Meyer said. “I think that’s so good for college football to see a guy like that go out and win it.
“He’s a great, great player. Great, great person, great leader, you can tell. Plays his best when it’s hard,” he said.
MVP, MVP: Meyer said he considers senior wide receiver Evan Spencer the Most Valuable Player of this year’s team.
Statistically, as a pass catcher, Spencer isn’t even on the outskirts of MVP territory. He is ninth on the team with 15 catches.
But doing things like taking out two Alabama defenders on Ezekiel Elliott’s 85-yard touchdown run and recovering the onside kick that followed the Crimson Tide’s last touchdown are the sort of things Meyer was thinking about.
“He took two guys out and that’s there’s not one person in this facility that’s shocked that he did that,” Meyer said.